Infoscience

Thesis

Gas Sensors on Plastic Foil with Reduced Power Consumption for Wireless Applications

Recently, there is a growing interest in developing so-called "smart" RFID tags for logistic applications. These smart tags incorporate sensing devices to monitor environmental parameters such as humidity and temperature throughout the supply chain. To fulfill these requirements cost-effectively, RFID tags were produced on plastic foil through large scale manufacturing techniques. To benefit from sensing capabilities on these systems, the integration of gas sensors directly produced on plastic foil was explored. Their gas sensing performances were investigated when fabricated on same polymeric substrates than the labels. To be compatible with wireless applications, all sensors were designed to operate in the sub-milliwatt power range. The integration of three different transducers on plastic foil for the detection of different gaseous species was investigated. First, the direct use of the PET or PEN foil as an optical waveguide for the fabrication of a selective colorimetric ammonia gas sensor was carried out. It led to a simplified processing based on additive fabrication techniques compatible with large scale manufacturing. Second, the impact of miniaturization on drop-coated metal-oxide gas sensors when fabricated on polyimide foil on their sensing performances was investigated. They took advantage from the low thermal conductivity of the substrate to reduce the power consumption with a simplified processing. The detection of oxidizing and reducing gases was achieved at low power consumption when pulsing the sensors. Lastly, the benefits brought by the gas absorption in a polyimide foil were exploited with the design of a simple capacitive structure. By operating it in a differential mode with a second functionalized capacitor, the discrimination between low-concentrations of volatile organic compounds and humidity was achieved. The design and fabrication of these sensors were developed with a vision of their future production performed by large scale manufacturing techniques. The gas sensing performances of all three transducers were assessed and revealed sensitivities comparable to standard devices made on silicon. Each sensor was associated with low-power electronics targeting an integration on wireless systems. The concept of a smart gas sensing system was demonstrated with the interfacing of a capacitive humidity sensor on a passive RFID label.

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